Thursday, July 30, 2015

Justice League: Adults and Teenagers

So, I picked up Justice League: Gods and Monsters. For awhile, I was buying all the DC Direct-to-DVD films, and that new Batman Unlimited joint was the first one I sat out on. I was going to bow out on this one too, but the concept seemed interesting and I liked the prospect of seeing Timm's animation style again.

It is a very mixed bag. Spoilers ahead.

The thing to really like about it is that it's an "evil alternate universe Justice League" story without the "evil." The universe here is built to defy easy moral dichotomies, like a more morally gray version of the Justice Lords story. The Justice League still fights for a sense of justice, but more brutally. The ultimate demonstration of this is in the origin of this world's Wonder Woman, whose origin is steeped in a much less Manichean Apokolips/New Genesis conflict.

The character hooks are pretty standard Elseworlds concepts—what if Superman were General Zod('s kid), what if Batman were a vampire, etc.—mostly stuff we've seen before in other stories. Wonder Woman is both the biggest departure from the original and the one that's hardest to identify as a spin on the basic character concept. Consequently, though, I think she's the most interesting of the main cast, because her story's the most different from what's come before.

The bad is that it all feels like that style of "edgy" that a thirteen-year-old boy comes up with. There's a lot of curse words that feel really forced, some surprisingly graphic violence, and somebody drew really crude nipples on Platinum of the Metal Men. In every frame she's in. And all along the way they throw in references to recognizable characters with a kind of "look! look! recognize that guy? Eh? Eh?" There's a lovingly lingering shot of an ID card reading "VICTOR FRIES" in an early scene, and it's only there because he's a scientist working in the arctic.

It's not a bad movie, even if the moral at the end is mega-dumb. But it's also not what I imagine anybody wanted from a return to Bruce Timm's animation style. If I'd watched it first, I probably would not have purchased it, but it's an interesting little Elseworlds story that has some neat ideas and moments. And, like any Timm project, it looks great. I just wish it were more actually-mature and less what-a-teenager-thinks-mature-is. Because weirdly that makes it considerably less mature than most of what has already been done in the DCAU.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Spilling the Secrets

Marvel announced today what's been rumored for some time, that the upcoming Secret Wars storyline will be the "end" of the regular Marvel and Ultimate universes. I have more thoughts on that, which I'll post later, but for now I thought I'd make some predictions.

Characters moving into the Post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe
  • Miles Morales: Pretty much a given, right? I have to imagine that a major driving force behind this whole event was how to salvage Miles from the smoldering, decaying wreckage that is the rest of the Ultimate Universe. How Miles will fit into the universe going forward, who knows?
  • Spider-Gwen: Basically another given. Marvel already teased the idea of bringing back Gwen Stacy in this story (perhaps more than one), and with a character who's such a breakout hit already, they'd be fools not to fold her into the Marvel Universe proper. How she'll interact with Spider-Man and the rest of the Spider-Family is anyone's guess, but we've had a universe with a Jean Grey dealing with fallout from her dead counterpart for a couple of years now, so that's not too surprising.
  • Japanese Spider-Man: We can hope, right?
  • Professor Xavier: Dead since Avengers vs. X-Men, Chuck seems like the likeliest resurrection, possibly leading a rebooted younger X-Men or something. I hope we don't see too much rebooting (because rebooting always leads to repeating), but I'd be surprised if this weren't what all the Red Onslaught stuff were all ultimately leading to.
  • Jean Grey: Another candidate who seems likely, given how long she's been off the table, and the kind of opportunity this story presents.
  • Doctor Octopus: Dead since the end of the Superior Spider-Man series, Spidey's greatest foe isn't likely to stay gone for long (and didn't the last time he died). Frankly, I'd like to see Ock return sooner rather than later, and in a newly rejuvenated body.
  • Uatu the Watcher: Someone's got to keep track of whatever universe(s) result from this shebang.
  • Ben Reilly: Something about Spider-Verse has made me weirdly nostalgic for Ben, and I've found myself with a perverse desire to revisit the Clone Saga. Bringing Ben and his kickass costume back would satisfy my craving, at least, and would allow us to have an Avengers team made up entirely of Spider-People.
  • Dum-Dum Dugan: I've said since the spoilers came out of Original Sin that the whole "Dugan was just an LMD" (and, for that matter, "Nick Fury's Infinity Formula wore off") plot element would be gone with the next retcon. Well, here's the next retcon. Maybe it'll happen, maybe not, but it's among the easiest plot annoyances to fix.
  • Thor Odinson: Thor has been Mjolnirless for a couple of months now, for reasons that have yet to be entirely explained. I'm really enjoying Aaron's run, so I'd actually be pretty bummed to see the status quo reset so quickly, but I can also imagine that Marvel wants their universe looking pretty cinematic by the time Age of Ultron hits theaters in May.
  • Tony Stark, No Longer Superior: This one's a bit dicier; since it seems like Tony's probably going to be at fault for Ultron in the movie, it might work well to have jerkass Tony in the comics too. But I'd be surprised if he weren't back in the red-and-yellow armor by May.
  • Steve Rogers, Captain America: Much like Thor, I'd like to see Falcon keep the armor for awhile longer, but I won't be shocked if Steve is rejuvenated and shield-wielding come May.
  • Mary Jane Watson-Parker: It's unlikely, to be sure, but at the very least now would be a good time to make it so that Peter and MJ at least never made a deal with the Devil to avoid a divorce.
Continuity Changes
  • Nick Fury, Sr.: Marvel's been angling for awhile to make Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury the official one of the regular Marvel Universe, first by introducing his long-lost son and putting the original in the toybox for awhile, then by making him the old "Man on the Wall" and then "The Unseen." Now would be the perfect time to re-write history so that Nick Fury has always been a darker-complexioned fellow, which may likely mean erasing his World War II service. This may be the biggest hurdle against bringing Dum-Dum back, since he may be left back with the Howling Commandos.
  • All-New X-Men: At this point, it'd be a little surprising to see either the young All-New X-Men team or their adult counterparts removed from the universe, but I have a hard time imagining us going forward with two teams of the same characters functioning in the same universe at the same time. Then again, it's entirely possible (given the structure of this event) that Marvel's not using Secret Wars to streamline timelines and eliminate characters, in which case we may very well end up with more than just two teams of time-displaced X-Men working in tandem. Might be nice to clear up some of the more complicated characters, even if it means making Rachel and Miles's cold-opens less entertaining.
  • Captain Marvels: I wouldn't be surprised at all to see a streamlined timeline where Carol Danvers was only the first or second Captain Marvel, and not the latest in a relatively long legacy.
  • Jarvis: I suspect we'll see something closer to the cinematic universe, where Jarvis the Butler is a contemporary of Howard Stark's, and J.A.R.V.I.S. the computer construct serves Tony and the Avengers.
  • S.H.I.E.L.D. everywhere: Similarly, to bring things more in line with the MCU, I suspect we'll see a lot more SHIELD integration into everyday superheroics, similar to the way the Ultimate Universe worked.
  • Hydra everywhere: And where SHIELD goes in cinematic terms, Hydra can't be far behind.
  • Inhumans everywhere: Marvel's been pushing the Inhumans hard, and I think we might end up seeing some kind of synthesis of Inhumans and Mutants, or the revelation that a lot of the characters we thought were Mutants are actually Inhumans, or something in that vein. There's already apparently some movement in that direction for Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, and this would be another way for Marvel to break off from the Fox-owned licenses.

What are your predictions for the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe?